In the wake of the school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, Democrats around the country have called for more action on gun control as several Republicans have issued statements sending “thoughts and prayers” to the victims and their families.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Senator Ted Cruz were on the scene, in the suburb of Houston. Mr Abbott said the scene where at least 10 people have died and another 10 injured, many of them students, was "one of the most heinous attacks that we've ever seen in the history of Texas schools”.
Mr Abbott, who just two weeks ago at a convention of the National Rifle Association (NRA) in Dallas, Texas, said “the problem is not guns. It’s hearts without God,” changed his tone today. He said the community and state must “do more than pray for victims and their families”.
Mr Cruz tweeted: "God bless Santa Fe and all who are responding and supporting this community in its time of need." Unlike Mr Abbott, he does not appear to have changed his tone on possibly tighter gun control laws in the state. Mr Cruz, according to Texas Monthly magazine, received an “A+” and nearly $80,000 from the powerful gun lobby and membership organisation.
He said at the scene to residents of Santa Fe: "You are, right now, being lifted up at this instant in prayers by millions of people across Texas, across the country and across the world."
However, Mike Rawlings, the Democratic Mayor of Dallas, was more forceful in his statement. Mr Rawlings, who was with fellow mayors in Houston, said “history will not look kindly on upon those elected officials who failed to act in the face of repeated mass murders of our children. Spare us your thoughts and prayers and do your job”.
Others further afield reacted as well.
President Donald Trump sent out this tweet saying “we are with you in this tragic hour,” but did not mention anything about possible gun control reform or his proposal to arm teachers after the last school shooting in Florida.
“My administration is prepared to do anything to...secure our schools.” The president said everyone, at all levels of government, must work together to keep children safe in schools.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted at Mr Trump and cited other tragic school shootings from Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999 to the 2012 tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and the Parkland, Florida shooting earlier this year when 14 students and three teachers were gunned down at school. He wrote “DO SOMETHING” in capital letter and signed the tweet with “Father of Cara, Mariah, Michaela...NRA “F” Rated Elected Official”.
Ranking House Democrat Nancy Pelosi tweeted using the #neveragain hashtag, popularised by student survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting. She wrote that “Congress has a duty to take action to save lives”.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who has been accused of being too soft on the gun lobby early on his career, called the rash of US school shootings “sick acts“. He wrote: “Congress and Trump must finally have the courage to stand up to the NRA and do what the American people want. Enough is enough!”
Many other politicians offered their “thoughts and prayers” to victims and their families, a standard response seen in the wake of mass shootings in the country. Hillary Clinton however, noted that “soul searching should be matched with legislating to begin dealing with this national shame”.
US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said the agency’s Federal Commission on School Safety is “working to identify proven ways to prevent violence and keep our students safe at school”.
However, Ms DeVos faced severe backlash after she expressed full-throated support for Mr Trump’s proposal to provide firearms to teachers as a means of preventing deaths during school shootings. Several teachers unions opposed the idea and the state of Florida was unable to pass a law requiring teachers to carry firearms.
Congress is not currently in session and no plans have been announced to hear any more gun control reform legislation at this time. Some of the issues up for debate include better enforcement of background check provisions, the gun show loophole allowing private sellers to bypass laws requiring identification and background checks, mental health provisions, assault weapons bans, and age requirements.
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